A Chernihiv court ruled to discharge from custody Belarusian citizen Yury Palityka whom Ukraine accused of collecting classified information. Charged with espionage (Article 114-1 of the Criminal Code), he was facing up to 15 years in prison.
Palityka has been released on parole. The court will continue considering his case, and the Belarusian will have to appear at the hearings when summoned. At the same time, Palityka ‘may live wherever he wants, he has the right to go wherever he wants’, his lawyer said.
At the beginning of 2017, Yury Palityka sent a letter to the Belarusian embassy saying he was arrested when he was returning to Belarus. Officers of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) stopped him at the border crossing point Novi Yarylovychi on June 16, 2017. The citizen of Belarus, whom Ukraine suspected of spying, claims that he incriminated himself under torture. According to the man, he had never worked in the Belarusian KGB or collected secret information for Russia.
Earlier, some Ukrainian experts suggested that Palityka’s trial was a ‘mirror’ of the case of journalist Pavlo Sharoiko who is serving a prison term in Belarus. The UA: Ukrainian Radio employee was arrested in Minsk in October, 2017. According to the KGB spokesman Dzmitry Pabyarzhyn, Sharoiko, an officer of Ukraine’s military intelligence, worked undercover as a radio correspondent and created a spy network of the citizens of Belarus. In 2018, a Belarusian court sentenced Sharoiko to eight years in prison. The Ukrainian side is seeking the release of the journalist.